This week we got a good old fashioned space episode, with the crew finding themselves on a medical transport that suddenly finds itself under threat from unknown entities, the stuff classic sci-fi is made of.
Ah The Tsuranga Conundrum, what to make of you. This was an episode clearly made up of two halves and neither is truly excellent to be perfectly honest. Let’s first talk about the half the episode was sold on, a tale reminiscent of Alien with the team finding themselves on a spaceship a rather adorable alien is slowly taking apart. The fact the threat in this episode was secondary, in that it was simply feeding on the ship not them, was a nice little change that threw a moral quandry for the Doctor to solve as the “PTing” couldn’t really be blamed for what was happening. It also has a Godzilla vibe to the ending, with the PTing “dealt with” by feeding him the weapon intended to destroy the ship.
This half of the episode also include some nice character moments, with two coming to mind. The first is seeing a Doctor who is once again fascinated by technology rather than just great at it. For the last few years its felt almost like the Doctor seems it as a chore to invent stuff while here we got one who was enamoured with learning all of the 67th Century tech around. With STEM being one of the big topics in the UK right now this slots right into the “educational” remit of the show in much the same way as Rosa did two weeks ago.
The second character moment was the relationship between the three guest characters of the arc, with the Cicero’s strained family relationship being both believable and relatable for many while Ronan was probably the best android character in sci-fi for years as he stands in that uncanny nature of being a robotic life-form designed to be as human as possible. It’s not a perfect arc, with Eve’s “Pilot’s Heart” syndrome not really fleshed out to make it clear if it’s a PTSD-like or drug addiction like situation but it’s still a well done one.
Unfortunately the second half of the episode was a bit of a mess. While I’m sure a male pregnancy storyline is going to be loved by fanfiction writers everywhere the actual implementation of it was uneven at best. There was some great moments there, with a Ryan subplot relating back to his family issues coming through strongly along with some great Graham moments, but this was undercut quite often by the absurdity and cliché driven nature of it. It’s probably the weakest part of the series so far in some respects.
Outside the character stuff the episode was overall very strong, with the spaceship set in particular being given a strong sleek clinical vibe for its medical nature while also being claustrophobic enough with its narrow winding corridors suiting the more “horror” moments. The CGI and monster design also largely held up, if slightly let down by the resemblance to Stitch for PTing, which is definitely still making the show look like having a much larger budget than it no doubt has.
One thing that did come to mind during the episode was that it seemed to lack a “moment” like previous ones have so far. Even last week’s had the Stormzy moment to remember it by while here it all mashed together in a rather forgettable way it must be said.
Doctor Who is a show that largely lives and dies by the plot however and this weeks was at best solid but at worst bland. Strong enough as a filler for the series but definitely not one to win awards with.